Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Wednesday, Oct. 14, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday five counties east of the Cascade Mountains — Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin and Yakima — will advance to the second phase in his four-part reopening plan. It’s the first major change since he paused counties’ advancement through the phases this summer.

Throughout the country, however, infections are rising again, sparking fears that a forewarned wave of infections this fall and winter has begun.

Throughout Wednesday, on this page, we’ll post updates on the pandemic and its effects on the Seattle area, the Pacific Northwest and the world. Updates from Tuesday are here, and all our coronavirus coverage can be found here.

Navigating the pandemic
(Jennifer Luxton / The Seattle Times)


China fires 2 health officials following new virus outbreak

BEIJING — A hospital president and the director of the health commission in the northern Chinese city of Qingdao have been fired after China’s latest coronavirus outbreak, authorities said Thursday.

A brief notice on the Qingdao city government’s official microblog Thursday said Health Commission Director Sui Zhenhua and Deng Kai, president of Qingdao’s thoracic hospital to which the cases have been linked, were placed under further investigation. No other details were given.

Authorities ordered testing of all 9 million people in the city after a total of 12 cases, including those not displaying symptoms, were discovered over the weekend, accounting for China’s first local transmissions in about two months.

Similar mass testing campaigns have taken place after previous outbreaks. Testing began with “close contacts, close contacts of those close contacts and more casual contacts,” gradually expanding to all districts of the city, Qingdao’s health department said.

—Associated Press

COVID spike arrives late, hits hard in rural Kansas county

TOPEKA, Kan. — As rural northwestern Kansas communities endured some of the state’s biggest spikes in COVID-19 cases last week, a county sheriff who was among those testing positive found himself struggling to breathe and landed in a hospital room more than an hour from home.

The pandemic arrived late, but it’s now stressing Gove County, which has had to send patients including Sheriff Allan Weber to hospitals in other towns. The county’s 22-bed medical center only has a handful of beds dedicated to coronavirus patients and not enough staff to monitor the most serious cases around the clock.

The local nursing home had most of its 30-plus residents test positive, and six have died since late September. Besides the sheriff, the county’s emergency management director, the hospital CEO and more than 50 medical staff have tested positive. Even so, some leaders are reluctant to stir up ill will by talking about how often friends and neighbors wear masks or questioning how officials responded.

Gove County is perhaps best known for an isolated stand of chalk pyramids that can tower 60 feet above the prairie, and some if its 2,600 residents live closer to Denver than the Kansas capital of Topeka.

—Associated Press

IMF joins Powell and Lagarde urging governments to keep spending

The International Monetary Fund said more public spending will be needed to complete the economic recovery from coronavirus, joining central bankers and finance leaders who are urging governments to set aside fears about mounting debt for now.

The Fund, historically a champion of budget restraint, on Wednesday published its most detailed study of the pandemic’s impact on public finances. It said global government debt will “make an unprecedented jump” this year, but it’s “not the most immediate risk. The near-term priority, instead, is to avoid premature withdrawal of support.”

That case was made with growing urgency by central bankers heading into this week’s IMF annual meeting. European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde kicked off the online-only event by saying her biggest concern is that fiscal aid to workers and businesses may get phased out too abruptly.

A parade of Federal Reserve officials led by Chair Jerome Powell lined up last week to make the same argument with regard to the U.S., where talks on the next dose of pandemic stimulus have been deadlocked for months in Congress. Fed officials said their own tools, such as another round of bond-buying, won’t be as effective as government spending.

The message from the most powerful central banks is increasingly clear: there are limits to what monetary policy can do to help in the short run. 


Europe, which thought it had tamed the coronavirus, faces a resurgence

LONDON — From France to Russia, from Britain to the Czech Republic, European leaders are confronting a surge in coronavirus cases that is rapidly filling hospital beds, driving up death tolls and raising the grim prospect of further lockdowns in countries already traumatized by the pandemic.

The continent, which once compared favorably to the United States in its handling of the pandemic, is being engulfed by a second wave of infection. With an average of more than 100,000 new infections per day over the past week, Europe now accounts for about one-third of new cases reported worldwide.

In the most vivid sign of the deteriorating situation, President Emmanuel Macron of France on Wednesday imposed a curfew of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas, beginning Saturday. “The virus is everywhere in France,” he told the French public as he declared a state of emergency.

The resurgence has prompted officials to close bars and clubs in Prague and Liverpool, England, and to make face masks mandatory in public indoor spaces in Amsterdam. In Russia, which reported its largest daily increase in infections Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin sought refuge from the torrent of bad news by announcing that his government had approved a second vaccine.

—The New Tork Times

As coronavirus spread early on, reports of Trump administration briefings fueled sell-off

On the afternoon of Feb. 24, President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that the coronavirus was “very much under control” in the United States, one of numerous rosy statements that he and his advisers made at the time about the worsening epidemic. He even added an observation for investors: “Stock market starting to look very good to me!”

But hours earlier, senior members of the president’s economic team, privately addressing board members of the conservative Hoover Institution, were less confident. Tomas J. Philipson, a senior economic adviser to the president, told the group he could not yet estimate the effects of the virus on the U.S. economy. To some in the group, the implication was that an outbreak could prove worse than Philipson and other Trump administration advisers were signaling in public at the time.

The next day, board members — many of them Republican donors — got another taste of government uncertainty from Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.

Hours after he had boasted on CNBC that the virus was contained in the United States and “it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow delivered a more ambiguous private message. He asserted that the virus was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know,” according to a document describing the sessions obtained by The New York Times.

The document, written by a hedge fund consultant who attended the three-day gathering of Hoover’s board, was stark. “What struck me,” the consultant wrote, was that nearly every official he heard from raised the virus “as a point of concern, totally unprovoked.”

The consultant’s assessment quickly spread through parts of the investment world. U.S. stocks were already spiraling because of a warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, but traders spotted the immediate significance: The president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

South Korea reports 110 cases, half in Busan hospital

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 110 new cases of the coronavirus, half of them linked to a hospital in Busan.

The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Thursday brought the national caseload to 24,988, including 439 deaths.

At least 54 infections were reported in a hospital for the elderly in the southern port city of Busan.

More than 40 others came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, tied to places including hospitals, churches, schools and offices.

The steady rise in infections is a cause of concern in a country that has just lowered its social distancing measures, allowing high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to professional sports.

—Associated Press

Germany agrees to tighten virus rules as infections rise

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Wednesday to tighten mask-wearing rules and make bars close early in areas where coronavirus infection rates are high, an attempt to avoid tougher restrictions now being introduced elsewhere in Europe.

The meeting came hours after the country reported more than 5,000 infections in one day for the first time since mid-April. Germany is still in better shape than many other European countries, but infections have accelerated rapidly in recent weeks.

“We must stop this exponential rise, the quicker the better,” Merkel said. “If we don’t, this won’t end well.”

So far, German authorities have called for districts to take action when they report 50 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days. Many major cities have exceeded that mark recently, including Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich.

Wednesday’s agreement — reached in eight hours of wrangling with state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions — called for action once infections hit 35 per 100,000 people.

—Associated Press

Pope apologizes for keeping distance as virus cases spike

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis apologized to the faithful Wednesday for not being able to greet them and shake their hands as Italy posted a record spike in coronavirus infections that is threatening to once again spiral out of control.

Instead of wading into the crowd to embrace the sick and kiss babies during his weekly general audience Wednesday, Francis walked in through a back door directly onto the stage to begin his catechism lesson.

At 83 and with part of a lung removed when he was in his 20s due to illness, the pope would be at high-risk for COVID-19 complications. And yet he has been reluctant to wear a face mask and appeared without one again Wednesday, even though many of his entourage and all of the Swiss Guards were using them.

He told the crowd Wednesday: “I would like to come down as usual and get close to you to greet you, but with new prescriptions, we would better keep our distances.”

Francis often seems out of breath and speaks in a whisper because of his lung condition, suggesting that wearing a mask might be particularly uncomfortable for him.

—Associated Press

Amazon workers say Prime Day rush breaks coronavirus safety vows

Amazon.com has recklessly reinstated dangerous warehouse productivity quotas despite telling a judge that it was suspending them during the pandemic, workers said in a court filing.

“Amazon has not been honest and forthcoming,” employees at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, told the judge handling their lawsuit, which contends the company’s “oppressive and dangerous” policies violated public-nuisance law and exacerbated COVID-19 hazards.

While Amazon says worker safety is its top priority, employees at several facilities in different states say their well-being takes a back seat to quickly shipping customers’ orders.

In July, Amazon provided the court a message it had sent to employees and posted in bathrooms at the Staten Island facility, telling them they wouldn’t be disciplined for falling short of the company’s quotas for how many tasks they complete each hour. Workers were also assured that time spent on safety measures like washing their hands wouldn’t be counted against them under Amazon’s “Time Off Task” policy, which restricts the number of unproductive minutes allowed in their day.

But in their new filing, the plaintiffs allege that in the lead-up to “Prime Day,” Amazon’s self-created, labor-intensive annual promotional holiday that started Tuesday and ends Wednesday, the company has once again been hassling employees about productivity, and warning them that slowness could get them terminated.

Amazon acknowledged reinstating performance quotas and said workers still have adequate time to wash their hands and take other precautions.


New economic relief deal unlikely before election, Mnuchin says, though talks with Pelosi continue

WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a new economic relief bill is unlikely before the election, suggesting that Democrats are unwilling to give President Donald Trump a victory.

“I’d say at this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are,” Mnuchin said during an event hosted by the Milken Institute’s Global Conference.

Asked whether Democrats are unwilling to make a deal because they don’t want to give Trump a win three weeks before the election, Mnuchin replied: “I think that definitely is part of the reality. That’s definitely an issue.”

“But the president is very focused on when he wins we will need to do more. So that’s part of the reason to continue to work on this,” the treasury secretary added. “The clock will not stop.”

Mnuchin made his comments after an hourlong conversation he had Wednesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The two have been negotiating for a couple of weeks despite the long-shot prospects for success. Trump on Wednesday called for a deal in a Twitter post, urging negotiators to “Go big or go home!!!”

—The Washington Post

First lady: Son Barron had coronavirus, but no symptoms

WASHINGTON — Melania Trump said Wednesday that her and the president’s teenage son, Barron, tested positive for the coronavirus not long after his parents, but had no symptoms. She made the revelation in a lengthy note chronicling her personal experience with COVID-19, including being hit with a “roller coaster” of symptoms that she treated naturally with vitamins and healthy food.

Mrs. Trump said she is now negative and hopes to resume her duties soon.

After she and President Donald Trump tested positive earlier this month, the White House said 14-year-old Barron had tested negative. Barron later tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms, she said Wednesday, adding that he has since tested negative again.

The president, speaking at a campaign rally Wednesday night in Iowa, was cavalier about Barron’s infection, saying, “He had it for such a short period of time, I don’t even think he knew that he had it.”

“Barron is just fine,” Trump added, using his son’s quick recovery as part of his pitch to reopen schools. “It happens. People have it and it goes. Get the kids back to school. We’ve got to get the kids back to school.”

—Associated Press

State Health Officer Kathy Lofy, who has helped lead COVID-19 response, is stepping down

Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington state health officer, speaks at a March news conference in Seattle.  (Ted S. Warren / AP)

Dr. Kathy Lofy, Washington’s top public health officer, will leave the state’s health department at year’s end, she said in a Wednesday news briefing.

“I’m not moving on for any reason besides it’s the right time for me personally,” Lofy said, adding that she planned take a brief hiatus from her career to improve her health and connect with family and friends.

Lofy said it was an honor to help lead the state’s COVID-19 response and isn’t sure exactly what she will do next.

“I don’t know what my next career move will be,” she said. “But I do know that it will involve improving the health and well being of others.”

State Secretary of Health John Wiesman thanked Lofy for her nearly seven years as the state’s health officer, saying she had done a great job on a wide range of issues, which included taking on the opioid epidemic and also acting as the state’s chief science officer.

“She has been instrumental in all of the work we have done here, has provided me amazing advice, great assistance to our local health departments and tribes and our health care partners as well,” Wiesman said.

Lofy was thrust into the fight against SARS-CoV-2 before many of her public health counterparts after the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed in a Snohomish County man in January.

Read the full story here.

—Evan Bush and Ryan Blethen

State confirms 734 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths

State health officials reported 734 new COVID-19 cases in Washington since Oct. 12, and 10 new deaths.

The update brings the state’s totals to 95,509 cases and 2,221 deaths, meaning that 2.3% of people diagnosed in Washington have died, according to the DOH. The data is as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

Statewide, 2,146,509 COVID-19 tests had been administered as of Tuesday night and 7,883 people had been hospitalized.

In King County, the state’s most populous, state health officials have confirmed 24,466 diagnoses — 169 more than last reported — and 790 deaths.

—Brendan Kiley

Russia approves 2nd virus vaccine after early trials

Russian authorities have given regulatory approval to a second coronavirus vaccine after early-stage studies, two months after a similar move prompted widespread criticism from scientists both at home and abroad .

The peptide-based, two-shot vaccine, EpiVacCorona, was developed by the Vector Institute in Siberia and tested among 100 volunteers in early-stage, placebo-controlled human trials, which lasted more than two months and were completed two weeks ago. The volunteers were between 18 and 60 years old.

In comments to the media, scientists developing the vaccine said it produced enough antibodies to protect a person for up to six months.

A heath worker prepares to inject Russia’s first coronavirus vaccine, known as ‘Sputnik V’, into a patient’s arm in Moscow, Russia, on Sept. 23, 2020. On Wednesday, President Vladimer Putin announced Russian authorities have given regulatory approval to a second coronavirus vaccine after early-stage studies.
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Though Russia boasted about being the first in the world to approve a vaccine in August, experts said much broader studies among tens of thousands of people were needed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before it is given widely.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Europe Today: Closing schools, bars, gyms

Dark splotches showing coronavirus hot spots are spreading across a map of Europe as governments scramble to prevent another round of total lockdowns, making unpopular decisions to close schools, bars and gyms.

The Czech Republic has overtaken Spain as Europe’s worst zone of contagion in the COVID-19 resurgence with Britain, France, Belgium, Russia and many other countries right behind.

FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, a staff member walks inside a closed bar in Prague, Czech Republic. Europe’s second wave of coronavirus infections has struck well before flu season even started. Intensive care wards are filling up again and bars are shutting down. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

Medical centers are generally better prepared than during the first wave of the pandemic. But many medical workers are demoralized by what they see the ineffective leadership of authorities who have tried to protect public health as well as ailing economies.

European countries, and even regions inside countries, are applying drastically contrasting strategies. In one area bars are considered breeding grounds of outbreaks, while across the border or city limits, schools are deemed viral cauldrons.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

61 people who went to Canadian spin studio get COVID-19 despite following health guidelines

At least 61 people linked to a stationary bike spin studio have tested positive for the novel coronavirus despite the gym's efforts to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Owners of the Hamilton, Ontario SPINCO said they removed about half the studio’s bikes, increased sanitation measures and asked riders to wear masks except while exercising.

“We took all the measures public health offered, even added a few, and still the pandemic struck us again!'” the company wrote. SPINCO has more than a dozen locations across Canada.

Hamilton's medical officer said it appears people ought to wear masks while exercising among others, even though government guidelines do not strictly require it, and avoid classes with an instructor yelling or coaching over music.

Read the story here.

—The Washington Post

Trudeau plans to keep Canada’s borders closed to US until COVID-19 recedes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated Wednesday he'll keep Canada’s borders closed as long as coronavirus cases remain elevated in the U.S.

Trudeau closed Canada’s international borders to non-essential travel in March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The U.S. and Canadian governments have renewed the restrictions along the shared border on a monthly basis, with non-essential travel currently restricted until Oct. 21.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated Wednesday he will keep Canada’s borders closed as long as coronavirus cases remain elevated in the U.S. Seen here speaking at a Aug. 18, 2020 news conference.  (Bloomberg)

“We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” Trudeau told a radio station.

Read more here.


$10 million campaign aims to save Washington music venues from pandemic

Remember the good ol’ days of 2019 when Seattle music lovers were scrambling to save just one cherished club from closing? One industry-crumbling pandemic later, venue operators are warning that without a financial lifeline, a wave of independent music halls won’t make it to the other side. But a new organization hopes to help.

The Keep Music Live group has launched a fundraising campaign looking to drum up $10 million to help Washington state venues stay afloat while COVID-19 keeps their doors closed.

Tractor Tavern, a small live-music business,  is among boarded up shops in downtown Ballard on  April 1, 2020. A new Seattle-area effort, the Keep Music Live group, has launched a fundraising campaign looking to drum up $10 million to help Washington state music venues stay afloat while COVID-19 keeps their doors closed. (Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Keep Music Live plans to issue grants to Washington venues with less than 1,000 capacity based on yet-to-be-determined criteria.

Read the story here.

—Michael Rietmulder

World Bank approves $12B to finance virus vaccines, care

FILE – In this Aug. 14, 2020, file photo, a street sweeper checks his mobile phone as he takes a break near a coronavirus-themed mural in Jakarta, Indonesia. The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people.

The $12 billion “envelope” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

The World Bank said its COVID-19 emergency response programs are already reaching 111 countries.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

COVID-19 cases continue to climb on UW's Greek Row

Coronavirus cases on University of Washington's Greek Row continue to climb with the college reporting 243 cases on Wednesday, up four from Tuesday.

The cases involve 10 sororities and seven fraternities from among the 45 Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council chapters.

The school hasn’t cracked down on students, saying its options for controlling students’ off-campus behavior are limited, but officials are painting a clearer picture of what sanctions could be imposed, including fines and restrictions on campus involvement.

On Monday, UW President Ana Mari Cauce said Greek houses flouting a moratorium on social events because of the pandemic could face harsher penalties.

“We will continue to make it clear that, if they don’t get it, and they continue to break the rules, party, that there will be harsher disciplinary actions,” Cauce said during the webcast of her speech.

 Read the story here.

—Christine Clarridge

Coronavirus lockdown 2.0 deepens existing economic divisions in Israel

Even before the pandemic, Israel had one of the largest income gaps and poverty rates among developed economies, with a few high earners, mostly in the lucrative high-tech sector, while many Israelis barely get by as civil servants, in service industries or as small business owners.

Those gaps have widened as the second nationwide lockdown, imposed last month, dealt a new blow to an economy already hit hard by the first round of restrictions.

The deep tear in Israel’s social fabric prompted a warning from Israel’s figurehead president, Reuven Rivlin.

“I feel the air is full of gunpowder. I feel the fury on the streets,” Rivlin told parliament this week. “Israel’s tribalism is breaking out through the cracks, and accusatory fingers are pointed from one part of society to the other, one tribe to the other.”

A poster reads “closed because of me ” with an image of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a closed shop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Israel has had one of the largest income gaps and poverty rates among developed economies, even before the coronavirus pandemic. The country has a few high earners concentrated in the lucrative high-tech sector, while many Israelis barely get by as civil servants, in service industries or as small business owners. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

On Brazil’s tropical island of cats, virus led to starvation

All the locals knew the island just west of Rio de Janeiro was teeming with cats. They left food and even brought tourists. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and human support dried up, resulting in a gruesome scene witnessed by fishermen: a group of cats devouring others’ corpses.

Furtada Island, referred to widely as “Island of the Cats,” is 20 minutes by motorboat from the city of Mangaratiba.

When the pandemic forced people to quarantine, sunk tourism and shut restaurants that dish up seafood, boat traffic around the island fell sharply — and with it, the food and water deposited there.

Locals didn’t realize the horror playing out on the island until the fishermen reported back in April.

Read the story here.

—David Biller and Diarlei Rodrigues, The Associated Press

As virus surges anew, Milan hospitals under pressure again

Coronavirus infections are surging anew in Lombardy, the northern Italian region where the pandemic first took hold in Europe, putting pressure again on hospitals and health care workers.

At Milan’s San Paolo hospital, a ward dedicated to coronavirus patients and outfitted with breathing machines reopened this weekend, a sign that the city and the surrounding area is entering a new emergency phase of the pandemic.

Dr. Guido Marinoni, the head of the association of general practitioners in Bergamo, where 6,000 people died in one month, said people in the province were sufficiently frightened by what happened in the spring to continue to follow the rules. But that may not be so in other parts of Lombardy or the country.

“Six-thousand in one month. Do you know how many dead there were in five years that Milan was bombed during World War II, and it was targeted a lot: 2000,’’ Dr. Marinoni said. “What is worrying to see in other areas is the nightlife, people who are gathering in bars and partying. This is very dangerous.”

People have a drink and relax at the Naviglio Grande canal, one of the favorite spots for night life in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the aim of Italy’s new anti-virus restrictions limiting nightlife and socializing is to head off another generalized lockdown. Conte defended the measures as both “adequate and proportional” to the current need. He spoke Tuesday as the health ministry reported another 5,901 people tested positive over the past day and 41 people died, bringing Italy’s official COVID-19 death toll to 36,246, the second highest in Europe after Britain. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Kindergartners are coming back to Spokane Public Schools but what about everyone else?

Kindergartners in Spokane Public Schools will be back to school full time on Monday, but there's no word yet on when first-graders and others might return, Superintendent Adam Swinyard said Tuesday.

He said the district expects to know more by the end of the month.

The district opened the year on Sept. 14 with distance learning only. Last week it began an alternating schedule for kindergartners, with half attending full-day sessions.

Read the story here.

—Jim Allen, The Spokesman-Review

Wisconsin judge blocks governor’s order limiting capacity

FILE – In this May 13, 2020 file photo, The Dairyland Brew Pub opens to patrons in Appleton, Wis. A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday, Oct. 14, temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places. (William Glasheen/The Post-Crescent via AP File)

A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places, a move that comes as the state breaks records for new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin sued on Tuesday. Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel on Wednesday blocked the order and set a court date for Monday.

The Democratic governor’s order, issued last week, limited the number of customers in any indoor establishment to 25% of capacity.

Earlier this year, the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court ended Evers’ “safer at home” order. Republican lawmakers are currently suing to end the governor’s statewide mask mandate.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Extra scrutiny planned as virus vaccine worries grow

Facing public skepticism about rushed COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. health officials are planning extra scrutiny of the first people vaccinated when shots become available — an added safety layer experts call vital.

Among plans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Texting early vaccine recipients to check how they’re feeling, daily for the first week and then weekly out to six weeks.

The first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, receives an injection on May 4, 2020. On top of rigorous final testing in tens of thousands of people, any COVID-19 vaccines cleared for widespread use will get additional safety evaluation as they’re rolled out. (University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP)

A new poll suggests those vaccine fears are growing. With this week’s pause of a second major vaccine study because of an unexplained illness — and repeated tweets from President Donald Trump that raise the specter of politics overriding science — a quarter of Americans say they won’t get vaccinated. That’s a slight increase from 1 in 5 in May.

Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University, said, “If the politicians would stand back and let the scientific process work, I think we’d all be better off."

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Liverpool slams revelers; Northern Ireland shuts schools

Revelers in Liverpool, the first city in England to be placed under the government’s toughest Tier 3 restrictions amid soaring rates of coronavirus infection, poured into the streets to dance and taunt police as pubs closed ahead of the restrictions that could keep them shuttered for months.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson wrote on Twitter: “These pictures shame our city, attacking our brave police officers is unacceptable. Our health service is creaking, 300 in hospital and 30 people dead in week. Ignoring these facts is why we are in Tier 3 measures.”

The new three-tier system forces pubs and bars that don’t serve meals to close. In addition, indoor social gatherings with people from other homes are banned and residents are advised not to travel outside the area.

Empty tables and chairs outside Sweeney’s Bar in Liverpool, the night before new measures across the region are set to come into force, in England, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Britain, which has suffered the deadliest outbreak in Europe with a toll of more than 43,000. Under plans unveiled this week, Liverpool is in the highest-risk category, and its pubs, gyms and betting shops have been shut. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Northern Ireland on Wednesday introduced the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom, closing schools, pubs and restaurants to slow the spread of the virus.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

ICU beds in Belgium could be full next month

Belgium’s intensive care units will hit capacity by mid-November if new coronavirus cases continue at the same pace as now, the country’s health authorities warned Wednesday.

The latest COVID-19 figures published Wednesday by the national institute of public health show that Belgium has seen 7,360 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours.

A medical worker, wearing full protective gear, takes a nose swab from a patient to be tested for COVID-19 in a Red Cross test centre in Brussels, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Authorities in Belgium, one of the European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, are warning that the number of cases is rising at a “quite alarming” rate and that 10.000 people could be catching the virus each day by the end of the week. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

All virus indicators have gotten worse in recent weeks as the new surge in infections is also being reflected in rising hospital admissions and deaths.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

Study: Health systems, govt responses linked to virus tolls

Scientists say a comparison of 21 developed countries during the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows that those with early lockdowns and well-prepared national health systems avoided large numbers of additional deaths due to the outbreak.

A man wearing a face mask walks past an entrance to Belfast City Hospital, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Northern Ireland introducing the tightest COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, closing schools for two weeks and pubs and restaurants for a month. “This is not the time for trite political points,” First Minister Arlene Foster told lawmakers at the regional assembly in Belfast. “This is the time for solutions.” (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)

In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used the number of weekly deaths in 19 European countries, New Zealand and Australia over the past decade to estimate how many people would have died from mid-February to May 2020 had the pandemic not happened.

The study found there were about 206,000 excess deaths across the 21 countries during the period.

The authors said government efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and the ability of national health systems to cope with the pandemic factored into the outcomes.

Read the story here.

—The Associated Press

University of Oregon says winter term will be largely online

EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon said Tuesday that winter term courses will continue to be largely remote and online.

The university in Eugene said it will continue to offer some classes in-person, such as science labs and physical education courses, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Those in-person courses will require face coverings and physical distancing, according to the university.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Quarantine Corner: Things to do while staying home

Yummy Meats & Deli specializes in crunchy Nashville fried chicken. (Jackie Varriano / The Seattle Times)

Tasty takeout: The spiciest fried chicken sandwich in the Seattle area reportedly resides in Renton, and it features the hottest pepper in the world. But that’s not the only reason to stop by Yummy Meats & Deli.

Listen from wherever you are: Earshot Jazz Festival is going virtual, starting Friday, with a hefty lineup of top-flight Seattle players.

What to watch: A former Seattleite's acclaimed Broadway play is among our picks for this week's top streams.

—Kris Higginson

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at the University of Washington is on probation for breaking COVID-19 rules. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

UW is threatening "harsher disciplinary actions" against Greek Row, where a coronavirus outbreak has swelled to hundreds of cases.

Five counties have been cleared to move to the second phase of Washington's reopening plan. They were once among the state's biggest coronavirus hot spots. See the status of every county, and what that means for daily life.

Coronavirus cases are rising in the U.S., sparking worries that the next big wave has begun. One prominent UW model forecasts that U.S. deaths, which just topped 215,000, could rise to more than 394,000 by February.

Cheryl Odegaard, a medical assistant at St. Luke’s Respiratory Clinic in Duluth, administers a coronavirus test to a patient in a drive-through testing site last month. (Alex Kormann / Minneapolis Star Tribune / TNS)

Would you get a vaccine, if a free and approved one were available now? Half of Americans say they wouldn't. And no, vaccine makers are not mass-slaughtering sharks. Here's how that idea caught fire and what's actually happening.

Eli Lilly's trial of an antibody treatment for COVID-19 has been paused over a potential safety concern. This came a day after Johnson & Johnson paused its vaccine trial because a participant fell ill, and a month after sicknesses halted AstraZeneca's vaccine trial. Here's what you should know about the efforts to make and distribute a vaccine, including who could get one first.

Reinfections are real, but how common are they? Chances are, you don't need to worry. But there are reasons to keep wearing masks even if you've recovered from COVID-19, doctors say.

The Admiral and other Seattle-area cinemas reopen this week with new measures to try to keep customers safe. This definitely won't look like the last time you went to the movies.

Will Seattle's restaurateurs ever recover? The New York Times looked at how our once-vibrant scene and its superstars are getting crushed. The latest in a string of closures is Beth's Cafe, of 12-egg omelet fame.

Famous 24-hour, greasy-spoon diner Beth’s Cafe is located at the edge of the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, off of Aurora Avenue North near North 73rd Street. (Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times, 2015)

—Kris Higginson

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